Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Portrait Watercolor Process

Hello Everyone, seems about the right time for a semi annual blog about my painting process.  This time around I will discuss my most recent portrait painting and some background on my influences and where I've developed some of my techniques. 

So first I'll go over my influences. I have a great many artistic influences but when it comes to watercolor there only a select few I've followed over the years.  Charles Reid is one, especially for his use of color and his brush controlI've tried to emulate his loose and expressive style but honestly, that is still a work in progress.  Another great influence in terms of color theory is the great Jim Ames.  I've posted info about his book on color theory in the past and I still highly recommend everyone checks it out for tips on how to build beautiful values.  David Mack is another artist whose work I've appreciated over the years, especially his mix of realism and abstract.  There are a great many other artists that I've picked up books and tips from over years and I've borrowed from all of them in one way or another to create my own style.... which i prefer to think as a loose technique with hints of photo realism. 

The painting in this post was a recent commission for a baby portrait.  When I'm working on portraits I prefer to use photo reference to help capture the essence of my model.  Here is the original photo-
  She's a darling, right?  After playing around with some sketches I cropped out the areas I felt unnecessary and focused on her wonderful eyes and smile. basically this area-
I want the focal point of the painting to be her eyes, nose and mouth so that will have the most detail.  I loved the contrast of red/pink and green so I wanted to build a loose wash surrounding her in the back ground and really focus on building on the shapes and forms for her face.  So I started by using a 2h pencil and mapped out the drawing on 140lb cold press paper.  I prefer Arches for my watercolor paper but Fabriano is very good as well.  For best results don't go below 140 lb.  The paper fiber will either fail or warp terribly. 

The drawing process is always the longest portion of portrait painting for me because I want to get it right, there's no point in doing a portrait if I can't capture the subject... Plus. I'm just an insanely slow drawer... draftsman?  Whatever the correct term, I'm slow.  I use several methods usually free hand for expressive purposes but for this one i used a loose grid system to capture as an exact of a likeness as I could.  

I then built my palette.  I only used 3 brushes on this one, all Winsor & Newton brand, a #10 round for the majority of the painting,  a flat, mostly for clean edges, and a #4 round for fine detail.  Here are the colors I used as well (all Winsor & Newton paints and a John Pike palette, they are the best)-
cad yellow light, yellow ochre, raw umber, permanent rose, cad red, hookers green, permanent magenta, sepia, cerulean blue, indigo
I start by blocking in basic shadows and shape of the face, very lightly because I may need to keep adding and changing color during the process.  Her her skin tone it was a mix of the yellow ochre, raw umber, perm rose and cad red with hints of the hookers green.
I continue to build the form and features of the face working on the edges and building on the shadows cast.  I kept building the green for the areas flowing away from the viewer and building the warm reds and magenta for the areas that i really wanted to emphasize in the foreground, particularly the cheeks and nose while still keeping some paper white for the extreme highlights on her nose and cheeks. (I really like the look of rosy cheeks and noses)

After this point I started to work very quickly.

Soooo, I unfortunately forgot to take some photos of the next steps.  I built the background washes and then worked on blocking in and creating the loose details for the flower band in her hair.  The band was extremely detailed but I just roughed in the shapes to show some texture and some of the finer details of the flower itself.  However, I did not want the flower to be the focal point, so i used some restraint and left it fairly loose in detail.  After finishing the flower I then focused on the shape of the hair,  I used a warm dark value, a mix of sepia, cad red and small amount of indigo for the darkest shadows.  From there I used the small round to build all the details into the painting.  The last area I worked on was the shirt, which was just building the shapes of the folds by emphasizing the different values of color in the shadows.

After all that, here is the final product-

I hope this helps for any one starting out and hopefully here soon i will get a tripod and actually starting filming this so I wont miss any steps.

Until next time,


Friday, March 21, 2014

New Plaid Paintings

So... It's been awhile since I've been on here.  If you've been keeping up with me on my Instagram, Facebook or Tumblr accounts you're probably up to date with what I've been working on.  If not, I'm drawing and painting a bunch of color field or what I like to call "Plaid" paintings once again.  I've been playing with these ideas for over ten years and I got inspired to start building on those ideas once again recently.  Here is a break down of the process I'm tinkering with at the moment to create these images.  This is my most recent painting which I've yet to title.  It has my Spacegirl Molly character undressing for a shower (the next painting I'm working on) after a day out adventuring in space.  This series is going to mix more traditional figure studies painted realistically with the minimalist color fields creating breaks or what I like to call "windows" of focus in composition in hopes to help create an interesting experience for the viewer.

This isn't every step I took during the course of the painting but this gives you a good idea of how I got the end result.

the original drawing was a sketchbook drawing of about 4x6 in size.  I re drew her to fit the 16 x 22 paper.  Why 16 x 22?  no clue, it looked like a good size to me i guess.
The set up- water, spray bottle, a bunch of brushes, watercolor paint, paper towels, painters tape and Jim Ames Color Theory made Easy.  It's been my watercolor "bible" for a long, long time.
building color

I pretty much called the skin tones good for now.
This is 3 colors in to the design for the plaid and where I switch over to acrylic paints.  Watercolor and painters tape have not been working for me lately , the tape just cannot stop the water and the color bleed ruins the (mostly) crisp lines I'm trying to achieve with the plaid color fields. 

so this is another several steps in, the previous photos I uploaded refused to cooperate and would not save in order. 
.... Why wont it rotate... ???

I decided to flesh out and build on the color in her suit as well as play around with the shapes that the shadows are creating on her body and suit. I feel it brought in some additional areas of interest without losing the original feel of the watercolor.
Final image.  (there is still some taped areas on the borders that I did not crop out of this photo)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Wow, it has been a long time since I've updated this blog!  I've honestly been staying busy sketching and 
posting on my Instagram account! I promise, check it out! However, most of the stuff posted on Instagram 
are my daily doodles, not my completed work.  As of right now I'm splitting time drawing a story by Edward
Harris for the newest Spazdog Press book which will be out sometime in 2014 and my own private series 
of paintings that I eventually hope are in a gallery somewhere... 

Here is the most recent painting and the steps that it went thru in the painting process.  It's a mix of 
watercolor, acrylic paints and a little color pencil.  It's tentatively titled Spacegirl on Plaid and it's 
17x22 in size on watercolor paper.  
Spacegirl on Plaid by Matt Goodall 17x22 on cold press watercolor paper

these are edited because Instagram is afraid of nudity apparently
Here is the next painting on deck.  There will be plenty of edits to this but this will be the general idea for the 
next big piece-

And here is my post from earlier today on the Longdogart Facebook page of my most recent event-

Spidey Sense
Colossal BoyAres
Ship WreckAlice, American McGee version
DeadpoolPhoenixDarth Maul
Yesterday I attended the 3rd Annual Kids Need to Read Day : The Halloween Comicfest at Heroes Comics and Gaming.  I’ve worked these shows for the Kids Need to Read charity in the past and once again I had a great time talking shop with my fellow artists and sketching for all those that donated to this worthy cause.  I want to thank everyone that came down and purchased a sketch and checked out my original art, I truly appreciate the kind words and the support.  I’m sorry to those of you I had to turn down for sketches, the list just escalated quickly and I got behind as usual… Please contact me if there is anything you are interested in me drawing for you in the future.  
Thanks again to Todd and the crew at Heroes and to all my wonderful artists and friends that joined in the fun, Andy Bohn, Al Sparrow, Christy Moeller,  and Heather Martin.
Here are the images that I completed for the day.  All but the watercolor Spidey that I did for Todd took between 20 and 30 minutes, usually due to my enormous indecision on poses.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Wolverine Step by Step

Here is another one of my step by step process features of one of my paintings.  This time around I chose to show another Wolverine painting that I recently finished.  My process is a mis- mash of styles I've learned over the years that I have become comfortable with and quite a bit of experimentation with varying results.  By no means is this the end all be all of watercolor painting and I'm sure some purists out there would find some things wrong with how I do it but thats fine by me.  When painting I'm more interested in where each experience takes me with the piece in general not on making someone else happy.  Some times it's a great experience and I love the outcome... other times not so much.   This one I was quite happy with.  This is almost a complete step by step.  Some of the photos when I was working quickly on details or wet into wet areas didn't turn out because I was more focused on making sure that the paint was doing what I wanted it to do.  Sorry about the picture quality.  Sub par lighting and quick shots with iphone is as good as I could do this time around.

So here. We. Go-

So a lot of my drawings start out as doodle on a notepad while I'm at work.  If I like what is forming I'll bring out the sketch pad and start to flesh it out and maybe even complete it.  S that is the story behind this drawing of Wolverine.  I actually finished up the original sketch right before Phoenix Comicon so you may of already seen it.  The second Wolvie movie is coming out soon so thats why I had the idea of capturing the moment right after he realizes he just went beserker rage on some ninjas.

This 1st image has the original sketch paper drawing and then the light boxed copy on to a sheet of Arches 10 in x 14 in 140 lb hot press water color paper.  This is a smooth water color paper and I like to use it because the water effects that can happen by the lack of texture in comparison to normal water color paper.  More on that later.   Light box is a term I use whenever I copy an original drawing on to a different drawing surface (or maybe a nice way of saying I occasionally trace my own stuff).  I use this in several different techniques and for multiple types of art mediums because I find it a more efficient way to transfer an image than trying to completely re draw the original idea.  
Transfered image taped on my painting board

Original on the left, transferred version on the right

 So the next step I take with hot press paper is to prepare it.  The paper is only a 140 lb weight so it is still fairly light weight in terms of water color paper.  To cut down on the paper warping I give the paper a quick submersion bath in some water.  I use this old cookie sheet because it fits the paper sizes I normally use perfectly.  I also keep some paper towel right next to it absorb the access water after the bath.

Use whatever you fit your paper into and just add enough water  to dip the paper in and out.

Submerged Wolverine.  I kept him under for about 15 seconds.
Use this technique to help properly prepare your paper for all the water you are going to use for the painting itself.  Since I've started doing this I very rarely have to deal with a warped final product any more.  Just be careful not to submerge the paper too long because it will start to break down the fibers and ruin your paper and picture in the process.
So after the bath dry all the extra water off of the paper.  I keep the back a little damp to help the paper stick to the painting surface.  I highly recommend to then tape the paper to your board or desk like the 1st image above to help it stick even more and stop any initial warping of the paper.  I always know the paper is going to warp, it's natural.  But this process will help out in the end, you'll see the proof in these photos.

I then prepare my paints.  I build my palette up with all the initial colors that I intend use and then build from there as the painting progresses.  This is my basic set up as well-  A big drawing(painting) board, Darth Vader cup for brushes and tools, Spray bottle with water, two water containers- one for dirty brush and one for clean water, paper towel for any quick color bleed fixes and my palettes.  I used to have a super awesome nice one but I must have lost it over all my moves over the years and I have not found a suitable replacement yet.  I use the kitchen table and the board over a traditional drafting table because I like the freedom of working flat or at an angle at a seconds notice.

tools of the trade

So next I start with the my sky.  This painting is all about trying to capture an intense emotional experience in a cold, emotionless setting.  I wanted to create a cool mountain haze effect with the atmosphere. So drenched the paper with water from the spray bottle and then started to mop brush color in lightly.  I don't use any masking fluids because I've never had good luck with them in the past.  They can definitely keep your pure paper whites and protect areas you don't want color bleed but when I've tried them in the past I ruined a few of paintings because they tore some of the paper fibers on removal. I've found if I work fast enough I don't need them.

This is about 2 layers of color .  I always work light to dark because you really cant go back in water color once dark or really saturated paint is applied.  
You may see the paper has warped because of all the water added.  I just work through it because I know it will be fine.  I tend to work my background in completely before moving on to my figures.  I use the bluish/green/ grey for some atmospheric prospective and then slowly add the warmer tones in to bring your eyes to foreground.

I start to add my warm colors for the areas that are closer to the foreground.  
All the basics are completed, now add the details
You may notice the effects of the wet on wet technique on this smooth paper.  You can see the paint drips that slowly went down the paper, you can seen interesting pigment textures forming in the mountains.  You can do all of this on cold press paper as well but many time the effects look different because of all texture in that paper in comparison to a lack there of in the smooth paper.  It also tends to make you work quicker because you have less control over what the paint is going to do, which makes it an interesting experience to say the least.

Next I block in the basic colors for Wolverine and the ninjas.  I then start to flesh out the details as well.   Wolverine in one of his costumes and the ninjas are fleshed out in a black made by mixing purple and green together.  I intentionally went full blown cad yellow on wolverine to contrast the coolness of the background atmosphere by bringing him to the fore front of the picture.  I wanted to bring attention to him and his facial expression which is mixture of anger, fear and regret
(at least, thats what I was going for).  You'll also notice that in the time elapsed that the paper has now flattened out completely
I tend to work top down so I finish the backgrounds and start fleshing out the details for the characters.
As I work in the details I added some darker areas in the mountains for some added depth and detail of the scenery.  I then work quickly to add all the details into Wolverine and the ninjas.  Sorry, I tend to get into the moment and work quickly on details so that is why there is a lack of pictures.  I purposefully did not make this image gory, which is a direction I definitely could of gone but I wasn't interested in portraying that at all in this image.  As with most of my big paintings, I want to capture the atmosphere and the emotion more than anything and I think this one was fairly successful in doing so.
Finished version

A small detail of Wolverine
So until next time, Bye!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Post Phoenix Comicon and Recent Stuff

Hmmm.  So I just realized I didn't post anything at all in the month of May.  Oh well, it is pretty obvious I am not the most dutiful blogger and in my defense, I did stay pretty busy the whole month.  The big two events of my year have now come and gone, Free Comic Book Day and Phoenix Comicon, and I am happy to say they both went pretty well.  I learned a lot from the experience of being on my own this year instead of being a guest at a booth and hopefully I'll be able to use that knowledge to be better prepared for cons in the years to come.  I may have some other events later on in the year that I will be attending but as of now I will be attending San Diego but only in "professional" status, not as an exhibitor.

So until then I will working on a few new paintings that I want to get done and working on Spacegirl Molly's story.  I will have a post on my new work in the next 2 weeks.  I promise.

Anyways, here is the art that I've worked over the past month -

little red riding hood commission

commission for a nice couple who wanted to be painted as Link and Zelda

a commission for a young lady.  This is her character who I can not find the name of...

My first piece of Space Girl Molly fan art.  Now I really got to get the story in the works!

Drawn by Ernie Najera, photoshop colors by me.  This one is almost done, just needs some touch ups and some lighting effects.